How did you become a Calvinist?

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N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
I became a Calvinist when I got saved. I was 17 (15 years ago) at the time and was not looking for Christ, for what he had to offer, or salvation. When I came to understand my sin and my need for the Gospel- Calvinism was a no-brainer.

This was underscored with the fact that the woman who led me to Christ had me reading good books and the Scriptures right away. The first book that I read as a new believer was Thomas Watson's Heaven Taken By Storm.


Puritan Board Senior
I think I was in the 6th grade. I had been in a reformed church (PCA) all my life and had heard of the word "calvinist", but I didn't know what it meant until I was 12. I was in a Sunday School class and somehow predestination came up and my teacher explained how God only saves certain people, and not everybody has the ability to choose God. I was shocked and little peeved. I argued with my no avail. I then complained to my parents and older brothers on the way home from church about the crazy talk I had heard in SS, and they explained that my teacher was right.
I think it was 7th grade when I first heard the 5 Points fully explained.


Puritan Board Doctor
I was born into a family in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which is a Reformed denomination, in which my father was a minister.

I have never had any problem with the idea that God is completely sovereign - since the concept of predestination dawned on me at about aged 10 - although like everyone here I don't profess to fully comprehend it.

He would be a strange kind of "god" if He wasn't completely sovereign.
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Puritan Board Junior
You're funny Caroline. I'm glad you didn't wreck your car at the OPC either.

I grew up in moderate Baptist churches. It seemed part of the whole southern culture to be involved in church as a social thing and as a way to do one's part in the community. I unceremoniously recited the sinner's prayer at the back of my Teen Study Bible and was baptized at 13, almost wholly because even though the pastor talked with you beforehand about baptism (don't remember what he said), you still had to walk down the aisle at the end of a service and shake his hand and have him announce your profession of faith, which sounded agonizing to my shy self and I just wanted to get it over with before I was so old it would be even more embarrassing. If that makes sense. I didn't think much of Christ and never read the Bible except when I had some sort of social crisis and then I liked to read the little advice columns splashed throughout the pages of the aforementioned Teen Study Bible. Awful.

I had an anti-calvinist youth minister who I grew to like, and we started studying some of the classic "Calvinist" passages like Romans 9. In the meantime I had received a guitar for Christmas and found lots of my favorite CCM music to play on There were also forums, and after I finally cooled off about an incident in the theology forums where I busted in declaring my opinion on something or other only to be told they were looking for actual arguments from Scripture (my feelings were so hurt, poor me), I went back in and started asking and reading about Calvinism. There were some future and present RUF interns there, as well as a PCA minister and some others who were glad to help me sort through my youth minister's arguments. That went on for some time; I started having daily devotions during which I read the whole Bible. I didn't understand SO much of it but I was glad I did. Then I read RC Sproul's Chosen By God and could no longer think of any objections, so I declared myself a Calvinist. I'm not really sure when clarifying the gospel shifted from a sort of intellectual hobby into something I needed to know and believe for myself, as a matter of life or death. I do remember beginning to be convicted of sin and really start to value the gospel, in contrast to my previous apathy. God is good.

Oh, and I never asked any stupid questions. ;) I just can't remember any now.


Puritan Board Senior
I was born a calvinist!! First 25 years of my life at Spurgeon's Tabernacle, based on 1689 confession. No mistake.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm always rather fascinated with people who have been Calvinist all their lives. I wonder what that's like. I don't think I even heard of Calvinism when I was a child. In fact, some Reformed people ask me what Pentecostals think about Reformed churches and I have to say, "I dunno. They don't. I don't think they know that you exist." It must be quite extraordinary to grow up Reformed.

And thanks, Laura, I'm glad I didn't hit the tree also. I don't think it would have made a difference in regard to my going to the church, but I was relieved not to have to be introduced as the woman that took out the fir tree on the corner and then said, "Hey, are you guys really Calvinists? Can I go to church here? After I get my car out of your tree, I mean." But then, I don't really know if I would have had the nerve to ask. Even without running down their tree, I never thought they'd let me go to their church. Sometimes I'm still a little surprised.


Puritan Board Doctor
I'm always rather fascinated with people who have been Calvinist all their lives. I wonder what that's like. I don't think I even heard of Calvinism when I was a child. In fact, some Reformed people ask me what Pentecostals think about Reformed churches and I have to say, "I dunno. They don't. I don't think they know that you exist." It must be quite extraordinary to grow up Reformed.
:ditto: This was my experience as a plenty-lost-al (pentecostal) as well.

21st Century Calvinist

Puritan Board Junior
Caroline, I should expand my earlier post a little bit. We went to a Reformed Church, but I did not grow up in a Christian home. Though there were undoubtedly many Christians whom God placed in my life. I would hear/see the Word Reformed or hear about Calvin. I was familiar with the catechism but I really could not have told you what Reformed meant. It was many years after I became a Christian that I began to get interested. In fact, I used to lurk on the Christian guitar forum that Laura referenced earlier. It was there that I was astonished to see folks my age or younger discussing and debating such things as Reformed Theology and the confessions. I felt convicted and started attending theology lectures at the denominational seminary. There I got more of a grasp of what I believed and why I believed it. Who knew that I believed in covenant theology or election or predestination or adoption or preservation of the saints! The White Horse Inn was (and is) a great blessing to me.
In my teens whenever I heard the WCF quoted I would yawn, or I would call Hodge stodge, BB King seemed more relevant than BB Warfield. I struggled with infant baptism and was seriously thinking about joining a Baptist church. But God led me to a different Presbyterian denomination- the Free Church of Scotland. It was like a breath of fresh air. So familiar, yet so different. After a while I came to affirm infant baptism. These days I am Presbyterian by conviction. I love the WCF and appreciate the old dead guys- as well as some of the still living!
In some ways I don't understand dispensationalism or Pentecostalism. In fact some of the more extreme manifestations of it scare me a little. It helps me to see the beauty of confessionalism!
I don't know if growing up in a Reformed Church has made me more chilled about being Reformed (or if it's just because I am laid back anyway!) I am a Christian, an Evangelical, a Confessionalist. Sometimes I weary of the endless debating of minutiae or when I meet a person who is more concerned about being reformed than they are about living their lives to the glory of God and holding forth the Word of Life in their families, amongst their co-workers, friends and neighbors. May we all be Reformed according to the Word of God and bring Him Glory by being so. Let's use these glorious doctrines that God has revealed in his Word to shine as stars in the universe!
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Puritan Board Professor
In the fourth grade a priest and a teacher (Mr. Furlong) came in one day and discussed the Trinity and how God was everywhere and was all there everywhere. I knew that day He was "bigger" and more mighty than I could ever imagine. Boy was I right on that one. Thank you Lord Jesus for coming in the flesh for us!!!!!


Puritan Board Freshman
I learned about Calvinism in my mid-twenties when I watched the video, "Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism." I remember thinking, "Why haven't I heard this before?" Recently, at my pastor's suggestion, I started reading Loraine Boettner's book on the five points. I really like it, as well.

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I was not raised or saved in a R Church. When I heard several different factions fighting it out, it led me to lock myself away, sort of, and read the scriptures for myself. I got tired of one preacher saying this and another that. Finally, it was a study of the book of Ephesians (not Romans....surprised????) that finally pushed me over into the R camp.


Puritanboard Commissioner
I leaned toward the "doctrines of grace" but had never had them clearly explained, especially systematically- how they all fit together and relate to and are dependent on one another. It was especially powerful to learn that, in reformed theology, all other doctrines relate in some way to the doctrine of God.

I was appalled at some of the man-centered teaching I heard and sensed was assumed and some of the behavior that generated- seeing something of it even myself. While there was some biblical remnant in the Methodist and nondenominational churches I journeyed through, I sensed something was missing big time.

After hearing the doctrines of grace taught and getting a first glimpse of the Westminster Standards for the first time, I quickly, almost immediately accepted that there was more Scripture than not that pointed to "Calvinism."

After about two years of study, questions, and meditating on the Scriptures and reading the doctrinal standard of the Westminster Standards, I came to accept there was a "clear and convincing" case for "Calvinism." That meant there were many more Scriptures that seemed to support it than Arminianism. But there were still a few Scriptures that seemed to support the other side, perhaps something like 70/30%.

A few years ago, while reading John 3, something suddenly made sense regarding the limited atonement- "the world" was not every single person in the world but all sorts of people in the world, Jew and Gentile that Christ died for.

And 2 Peter 3:9, the "not willing that any should perish" was in context, any of us, the redeemed.

Now it clicked.

The Bible was consistent in all five points of Calvinism from start to finish. While there are a few Scriptures that are unclear, I can now say the clear message of Scripture, beyond reasonable doubt is that God redeems sinners- and He does so according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will.

So as surely as one had nothing to do with their salvation, because of God's choice to redeem an unworthy sinner for reasons known only to Himself and give him something he does not deserve, mercy- one can never lose it, either.
Not even possible.

All praise, honor and glory to our God for that!


Puritan Board Junior
Ever since I was saved I held to the 5 points fairly easily (struggled with L for awhile). However I became fully reformed while studying reformation theology and history while serving as an intern at a Dispensational church. Consequently I was asked to step down from all teaching positions and eventually was "forced" into finding a confessionally reformed church. Now I am cheerfully serving at an RPCNA church and couldn't be happier!


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Tom, I am happy to see that you too were rescued from the bondage of popery. There are many ex roman catholics on the PB who are now like you and also me Calvinist Reformed Protestants, Praise God!


Puritan Board Freshman
A few years ago an Arminian friend discovered the "shocking youth message" given by Paul Washer. I watched the video and realised there was something different about this guy... he had an understanding of God's glory and the way things really are that I just didn't have. I ended up watching more of his videos and began to understand what he believed about salvation.

This led me to read the bible more than I ever had before, and I started to see what it really means to be a sinner. That was the turning point for me... once I realised that there truly was nothing good in me whatsoever, and no amount of trying harder would ever get me anywhere, I knew there must be more to this Christian life than muddling through the bible not understanding most of it. Parts of the bible I had never understood before were clicking into place with every passing day, and I got to the point where I couldn't make sense of the bible outside of a calvinistic view.

I had said the "sinners prayer" and been baptised about 8 years before that, but even now I have to wonder if I was actually saved when I had this revelation a few years ago, not when I first prayed as I first thought. Embracing Calvinism felt like being born again..... AGAIN!


Puritan Board Freshman
What a great thread! I love reading all these!

I said the prayer at 5 and was baptized at the 1611 IFB church my parents took me to. My pastor was extreme anti-calvinist, and I thought there was something wrong with me. He'd say God was Sovereign but in the same breath deny it. While I was in high school he did a whole series against each point of TULIP and I sat there with my NIV refuting each point he made. But I didn't know it made me a Calvinist. I went on to BJU and then nearly left Christianity out of despair. The past 15 years bounced around seeker and emergent churches, trying to get away from the legalism I knew Christianity to be, not realizing I was just trading one type of legalism for another.

After my marriage nearly ended 2 years ago, I decided to figure out what I believed and why, and started listening to any podcast I could. From Rob Bell and Brian McLaren to Dave Hunt. When I heard something I couldn't agree with, I'd delete the podcast and find something new. I was soon left with nothing but more despair, and reluctantly started listening to John Piper. The first thing I heard from Piper was him reciting Romans 8 and 9. It changed my life. And I'd finally found the reformation. I was soon listening and reading Beeke, White Horse Inn, Gene Cook, Scott Clark, etc...

thankfully I didn't ask these to anybody but google:
I didn't know Presbyterians were Calvinists, or I think I would have risked expulsion at BJU to attend a PCA church!
I thought confessional meant that you would have to confess in little booths to the pastor!
I thought Reformed meant "a changed life".
I didn't know there was a single christian anywhere in the world that didn't believe in a secret rapture, or a future millennium, or two separate judgments... I knew I didn't understand the Dispensational position, I just thought there was something wrong with me.

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I grew up AOG but stumbled across two books in the discount rack at a Christian bookstore in Orlando; RC Sproul's, The Holiness of God and Foxe's Book of Martyrs. That got me thinking and studying very hard, though I wasn't a Calvinist yet. I just knew my faith was shallow compared to the saints of the past and I needed something more solid. About a year later I read Sproul's Chosen by God and that helped me understand biblical grace, and so a Calvinist I became. Shortly after that I moved home and met up with my best friend growing up (who also became a calvinist a year earlier, though we never talked about it) and that led to hours and hours of study together, discovering the riches of the Puritans and Reformed church history. Then a couple years later I found a Reformed church. It has been almost 14 years now since I discovered the doctrines of grace.


Puritan Board Senior
Becoming a Calvinist isn’t like winning a theological debate or reciting and explaining the Five Solas, TULIP and the WC. It is orthodoxy and it is orthopraxy. I think that Mike Horton says that Calvinism is just biblical Christianity.

I became a believer at the age of seven and was conceptually introduced to Calvinism in my early 20s, although the denomination I was in didn’t emphasize Calvinism. In 2000 when I married Mr. Johnson and joined his church, the RPCGA, I learned a lot more about Calvinism and the WC.

I think 21st Century Calvinist has it right when he wrote about the importance of living to the glory of God, not just “endless debating of minutiae”. Because of the doctrines of grace I am free from worry about how things will work out and free to bring God the glory as I ask for His guidance and obey His Word. I am growing in faith, responding to the grace I have been given, but not becoming a Calvinist as one might become a member of the Rotary Club. Others may call me a Calvinist by my associations, but I hope they see Christ in me.
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Puritan Board Graduate
And please don't say, "God predestined it." Tell us the means that God used in his sovereign plan in which he predestined your Calvinism.

Were you born into a Calvy family? Get disillusioned with Arminian theology? Calvin and Warfield appeared to you in a dream? (If so, you really should stop eating burritos and reading theology so late at night.)
Nope. I started working on a thesis versus Calvinism, and it all went downhill from there.

Follow-up question: For those of you that, like myself, became Reformed as adults, what's the dumbest thing you ever asked the people in a Reformed church?
Technically I've never been to a Reformed church, so I'll have to bow out of this question. :D

edit: What happened was, a friend of mine started talking to someone else about Calvinism and free will in the back of church one Wednesday evening. I was listening, as I usually do, and finally decided to jump in. The other person, glad to be rescued from the subject, quickly vanished and started another conversation, leaving me to defend myself. Having never heard of Calvinism or anything like that, I quickly went in over my head and accepted his offer of lending me some mp3s on the subject.

About 75 hours of listening later, I finished Dr. Curt Daniel's infamous series on the History and Theology of Calvinism and several debates by James White. Gene Cook's "Narrow Mind" pretty much clinched the deal, and by the time I got Chosen but Free and The Potter's Freedom I had all but settled it.

Then I entered the famous Cage Calvinist stage, for a brief period of a month or two. After that I rebounded into the opposite ditch and hardly dared to open my mouth to say anything about theology to anyone. Now I'm slowly creeping back out of that ditch, but still hugging that side of the road. =)
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Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I was brought up in the SBC and taught the Scriptures by my grandmother (now with the Lord). I knew just enough Scripture to remember Ephesians 2:8 otherwise my experience was the "walk this aisle say this prayer" form of evangelicalism. I started seeing problems with the works oriented method presented as grace. "If it is by grace we are saved", I thought, "then what about all these works they're pushing?" I started studying Scripture closely. About the same time I was married to my wife who grew up under the preaching of a Calvinist SBC pastor. Much of what I was dealing with was being put into perespective by him. Also my wife gave me some sermon tapes from a Welsh Baptist preacher named Gordon Bayliss He was raised in Wales but resided in Birmingham UK. His preaching got to me it addressed the deep feelings and confusion I was having about the "walk this aisle say this prayer crowd".

After moving to Sasebo Japan for a tour of duty in the Navy I was introduced to Dr Ed Whealton who was very knowledgeable in Scripture as well as a Calvinist and charter member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Norfolk VA. At the time he and his family were attending Beracha Bible Church in Sasebo it was a Calvinistic Baptist Congregation, Pastored by Phares Huggins (now with the Lord). About this time I began struggling with the Scriptures even more regarding the doctrines of God's sovereignty in salvation. My wife was in much prayer for me at this time as, quite frankly, since she grew up under the teachings of God's sovereign grace she couldn't really relate to the hard time I was having. I would pace the floor in the evenings with the Bible in one hand and a glass of iced tea in the other. I'd read out loud, talk to myself out loud, and talk to God out loud, all while pacing back and forth in the living room. One evening I threw the Bible down on the coffee table, threw my hands in the air and cried out to God, "Lord I believe it! I cannot fight your word anymore. Forgive me my doubt of you." That was nearly 20 years ago. I've grown in grace since but not nearly as much as I should have.


Puritan Board Freshman
God's Sovereign. The bible teaches this so I'm in agreement with Calvin's stressing it.... But I'm a Christian 1st & foremost.

Steve D.

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
God's Sovereign. The bible teaches this so I'm in agreement with Calvin's stressing it.... But I'm a Christian 1st & foremost.

Steve D.
Calvin didn't stress it. He simply taught it alongside the every other biblical doctrine. But for many today, to teach it at all is "stressing" the doctrine and going too far! For those against the Doctrines of Grace, if you ever mention them in theological discussions then you're accused of being able to discuss nothing but predestination and only having Romans 9 in your Bible!


Puritan Board Freshman
Rev.....I have God in my to bottom. I really dont care if anyone labels me Calvinist, Reformed, Baptist me they all point to what I really am which is a believer in Jesus Christ as my lord & savior. I will go to my death with that in my heart.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Steve D

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
Without reading through everything here (I'm sure someone else may have said this) I never became a "Calvinist" I became a Biblical Christian. :)

The mechanism was going to an RPCES church Bible study for young people ... and several people there just handing me a list of scriptures that flew in the face of my unbiblical thinking (what I had been taught). What amazed me is that I had held onto false teaching for so long. My shame is that I had not wanted to believe what the Bible taught. I wanted the truth to be different, yet John 6, Romans (nearly the whole book, but particularly Paul's argument in 9) plus about 20 other passages argued the sovereignty of God ... which is what my sticking point was (I wanted man to have some level of autonomy, not realizing that if man was autonomous in salvation, he would never be saved).

The gentle leading of the Spirit though the reading of the word is what changed my mind (and heart). I only pray that God would just as gently remove the other areas of sin in my life. (May I ever praise him!)


Puritan Board Freshman
I became a Calvinist out of sheer happenstance actually at the time prior to god saving me and bringing me to a knowledge of the Five Points of The Tulip. I had been through the "spiritual wringer" so to speak by the age of 18 I had been involved in everything from Islam to Arastu and everything in between. by 19 I had joined The LDS church and remained a member for two years until one day I came across a book by Charles Spurgeon on The Blood of Christ. I ended up typing in the word Spurgeon into Google and came up with the name of my now current Church on Google. My first thought when I found out they where "Calvinists" was "Calvinists I thought they died out with the Puritans." So I started attending services and when I heard of The Five Points I had no real intellectual reservations against the Five points they all made sense and seemed Biblical. The one I accepted the most at first was Total Depravity (it appealed to my innate Pessimism about the human condition). Mostly because in my readings in High School especially Heart of Darkness by Joesph Conrad Lord of The Flies by William Golding and the novels of Dostoevsky convinced me of man's inherently "evil" nature. All though at that time I wouldn't have used terms like "fallen" or "sinful". So I became a Calvinist in mind first I had much intellectual knowledge of doctrine but no heart knowledge. It is when this is relatively recent change form one who had an intellectual grasp of The Tulip to a real heart knowledge of The Tulip. Is when I could say I really "became" a Calvinist where as when I was saved I only had a intellectual grasp of Calvinist Doctrine. I was in short looking at it now Calvinist in name only. Oh sure I said I believed in things like Limited Atonement or Irresistible Grace but in reality they where just so much words with nothing behind them except pride and Ego. So I can now look at my self and say I actually became a Calvinist after my conversion because I came to not only believe in The Tulip I began to actually love The Tulip and what it's doctrines entailed. I allowed it to change my life where as previously even for a long period of time after I was saved I used Calvinist Doctrine as nothing more then an Intellectual parlor game to show how "bright" and "smart" I was. Now I really am a Calvinist in my heart and not just my mind so that's how I really became a Calvinist.


Puritan Board Freshman
As a child, I attended both a Lutheran church (Hope in North Minneapolis on Sundays) AND a weird Dispensational/charismatic church (Jesus People Church in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesdays). After high school I decided to practice Idolatry for 20 years and finally became convicted enough to turn to prayer for a few months. I started listening to my old pastor on his radio show (Tom Brock from Hope Lutheran) and he had a guest named Kary Oberbrunner on for a book review. I followed Kary to his website where I listened to an episode where he was interviewed by the Whitehorse Inn. It was all over for me right there. Grace, grace, grace and more grace abounded in my life as the sovereignty of God became clear -- all this by the grace of Him who saves. I now find myself immersed in my ESV, the PB (quietly reading, not commenting) and prayers of gratitude. Now with podcasts from WHI, 9marks, Covenant Radio, Piper, Sproul and everything WTS (both East and West coast), my iPod runneth over.

When I write this down and read it, it all seems pretty strange, in a glorious kinda' way.



Puritan Board Freshman
I was raised in a typical, Arminian Baptist home and church. I had only ever heard of Calvinism from my youth pastor early on in high school and thought it was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard. He explained that Calvinists only believed 5 specific things and that was it.

When I got to Bible college, my first weekend was filled with some ignorant but well meaning students asking me if I was a 3, 4, or 5 pointer and I had no idea what it meant. I was confronted in so many classes with the Doctrines of Grace and had pretty much sworn the whole thing off. It seemed like a huge cult. It wasn't until I was meeting weekly with the my major's department head that I was able to discuss it in-depth and put all my concerns on the table. He was gracious and wise in his explanations and I benefited greatly from our discussions. He pointed me to a lot different passages in Scripture and talked with me about all of it. Through much prayer and study, one day it just kind of clicked. The Holy Spirit broke me of my pride and allowed me to understand the Doctrines of Grace. I have since sought to understand more and more. I have joined a local body of believers that faithfully preach the gospel of Christ. It has been such an interesting experience but I praise God for his allowing me to begin to understand more of him
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